Author: Stewart Howe

Whittlesea Mere Map by John Bodger 1786

Click here to download the 1786 Map of Whittlesea Mere by John Bodger. One of the greatest curiosities in this Kingdom, being a most spacious and beautiful fresh-water lake, on which have been exhibited several Regattas, at which were present many Thousands of Nobility, Gentry, and Others, from various Parts, who were accomodated with upwards of 700 sailing Vessels and Boats. The Contents of the Surface will be given and the Circumference and sailing distance from each Point ascertained, with their respective Names. Also, the Distance and sail from Peterborough Bridge, to the Mere; and the Distance from thence...

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Sedge Production in Yaxley

Cladium mariscus is a species of flowering plant in the sedge family known by the common name Saw-sedge or Sawtooth Sedge. The plant, which has hard serrated leaves,  grows in base-rich boggy areas and can reach heights of up to 2.5 metres tall. Prior to the draining of the Whittlesea Mere, the production of sedge and reed was extremely important to the economy of Yaxley. As early as the 12th century reed and sedge were transported along the watercourse known as the Yaxley Lode before being distributed nationally from the village. The various published works listing the uses of...

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The Mere in 2012

Whittlesea Mere 2012, a photo by Yaxley Festival on Flickr. In 2012 a Wright Rain Super Touraine system irrigates the site of Whittlesea Mere with Yaxley in the distance – a curious notion perhaps to those who strove to drain the lake in the middle of the nineteenth century. The Great Fen project promises to at least partially restore the great lake over the coming decades. Photo taken 12/9/12 on the Holme Fen Engine Drain road that runs through the centre of the old Mere between the Holme Woods and Engine Farm and the site of the old pumping...

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Skating for a pig and a hat!

A newspaper article describing a skating competition on the Mere in 1827 – “A skating match is run. Prize of a pig and a hat. Berry of Ramsey wins the pig and Germain of Whittlesey the hat. Prizes given by John Heathcote Esq. Mrs Gossip of Holme gave a sovereign for another race won by George Richardson of Yaxley.” Source: HUNTINGDON, BEDFORD & PETERBOROUGH GAZETTE – SATURDAY 24 FEBRUARY...

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A fisherman’s tale

Considering that the record catch for a freshwater eel in the United Kingdom is just 11lb 2oz (5.03kg), this rather fishy tale from 1892 should be taken with an ample pinch of salt – “A monstrous eel is caught in Whittlesea Mere. Enormous weight of forty-nine pounds and length of six feet six inches and a girth of nearly three feet. Preserved in a shop in Charlotte Street, Portland Road, London.” WORCESTER JOURNAL – SATURDAY 22 OCTOBER...

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